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An Uncomely Nakedness of Mind

"Hey, Ladybird," Megan said as she carefully lowered the tree ball into the hole she'd dug earlier, "I've got a local-person question for you."

Ladybird studied the effect of the tree in the floor of the new mall, her brown face stern and her long black hair pulled back in a tight bun. "Yes?" she said, gesturing for Megan to shift the top of the tree to the right.

"I kind of... I'm looking for a para therapist," Megan said, studiously not looking at Ladybird.

There was a pause, then Ladybird said, in an elaborately casual tone, "Wonder City has that effect on a lot of people."

Megan looked up at Ladybird to see if the tree was set correctly. Ladybird nodded briskly and indicated that Megan could free the root ball and fill the hole in. Megan said, "So, have any of your friends mentioned any, um, good ones?" as she tore the burlap. She picked up a shovel and began scooping soil in around the ball.

Ladybird looked around thoughtfully, eying the other soon-to-be en-treed spots under the skylights. "I can probably think of a few. Let's do that one over there next. Bring one of the birches, I think. I'll get you some names when I can get to my computer."

Megan finished filling the hole, stomped the soil down gingerly, and hoisted one of the birches, carefully balancing the tree so it didn't overbalance. They proceeded in near-silence for the next couple of trees before Megan ventured, "So I have another question for you."

"Yes?" Ladybird said, mixing some fertilizer into the latest batch of earth that Megan had dumped into the tarpaulin.

"If you had a... an issue you wanted to consult one of the Mystikai about..." Megan began.

Ladybird gave her a sharp look. "What sort of issue?"

Megan shifted the tree a few inches to the left. "A friend of mine may be... possessed by something."

"Oh," Ladybird said, looking relieved. "Is that all? Why not start at the top?"

"The top?" Megan said, staring at her blankly.

"Professor Fortune does free consultations about that sort of thing all the time," Ladybird said. "Three inches toward me."

"Really?" Megan said, shifting the tree obediently and feeling fairly elated by the news. Someone she'd heard of! Who she knew was competent!

"Yes," Ladybird said, nodding her approval of the tree placement.

Megan freed the root ball and filled the hole in. Maybe he would handle the whole problem. Maybe remotely. Maybe she could just go and tell him and come home to a sane and non-spandex G.

"That's it," Ladybird said. "Stand back from the tree." When Megan complied, Ladybird raised her arms. There was a low hum throughout the building, and Megan saw all the trees twitch once, twice, and a third time, before the hum stopped.

They watched a few new leaves pop open on the tree before them while Ladybird took a long drink of water from the Ultimate Construction water bottle at her belt.

"Just one thing about Professor Fortune," Ladybird said, picking up the jug of dry fertilizer.

"Yeah?" Megan said, picking up and carefully folding the tarp.

"He's a licensed social worker," Ladybird said, retrieving the shovel. "But don't go to him for therapy. He's pretty terrible with everyone, and is worse with women."

"Oh," Megan said, her shoulders sagging.

---

From the Author:
Well, the final tally for comments in December was 68! That guarantees 2 posts/week through January. But it was so close to getting 2 posts/week through February! Because I'm a softie this way, I'm going to extend the commenting bonus potential for the month of January -- if January draws 50 comments total, I'll post twice weekly through February too. As before, if you provide a comment bonanza, I'll extend appropriately.

Wonder City Stories has also been nominated for the Rose and Bay Award! I'll let you know when voting starts. You should also feel free to nominate WCS for any other awards it qualifies for. I really don't mind at all. ;)


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Wonder City Stories

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